Psalm 71:1-24 A Lament Psalm by David
Psalm 71:1-24 Back From The Dead
Psalm 71 was written by an elderly gentlemen, perhaps David in old age. His son, Solomon, gave us a nice description of old age in the last chapter of Ecclesiastes, verses 3-4 (see The Meaning Of Life).
As we age, things break down. We need “cheaters” to see fine print. Our backs ache. Our knees may blow out. Our hearts and kidneys may get clogged. The antidote is to eat better and exercise while young. But as C.S. Lewis pointed out after World War 2, the death rate does not go up after war, it stays the same: one per person (cf. Heb. 9:27). But eating healthy food and moving our bodies can result in a bit of less painful finale to our stay on earth.
Due to an increased sense of helplessness, a person can feel abandoned by God but David continued to trust God (vv. 1-2). He again refers to God as a rock, twice, in fact, of twenty-three such usages in Psalms (v. 3). God is a firm foundation, just as a rock would be (cf. Matt. 7:24-27).
David asks God to rescue him from the wicked men who are pursuing him (v. 4). He encourages himself that Yahweh had protected him since he was born (vv. 5-6). David’s life was and still is a witness to God’s protection (v. 7) and for that he praises God (v. 8). He hopes God will not forget him when he is at his weakest, in old age (v. 9).
Even at the end of his life, his enemies are continuing to stalk him, conspiring to off him (vv. 10-11). They think now that he is elderly that is more defenseless. David asks God to keep close to him and to rush to his aid (v. 12) so that his rivals will be humiliated (v. 13).
If David has learned anything through his long life, it is to trust the Lord even more (v. 14). He vows to praise the Lord for his deliverance (v. 15) and to learn even more of God’s power through it (v. 16). He will give God all the glory for His deeds (v. 16b, cf. John 14:13).
David has praised God throughout his entire life as God has taught him about Himself (v. 17). In his advanced state, David wants to continue to praise the Lord to people using his life as illustrations of God’s faithfulness and power (v. 18). He has personally learned through his life experiences that there is no God like the Jewish God, Yahweh Elohim (v. 19). Of course, one reason for that is that Yahweh is the only God!
About ten years ago, I was having some chest discomfort and would run out of breath going up the 13 steps to my bedroom. After the second time I called in to my MD’s office, I was gently but persuasively told I needed to drop whatever I was doing, round up my kids, and head for the nearest heart hospital. I did. I was diagnosed with acute heart disease and it was suggested that I immediately prepare myself for surgery. Being much smarter than the cardiologists, I signed a waiver and went home.
When I got home, I called my naturopathic doctor who politely told me to get my body back to the hospital. I was confused at the prospect of heart surgery at such a young age. (I later was quoted as saying that it was good to have my heart surgery while I was still young and healthy.) When I arrived home, I cracked my Bible and it fell open to Psalm 71:20-21. I felt like God was directing my attention specifically to these verses. I was encouraged that verse 20 used the word “revive” instead of resurrect (rendered “restore” in the NIV). It meant I would be healed here rather than there. That was a comfort.
I recalled that Jonah was brought up from the “depths of the earth” (v. 20c, cf. Jon. 2: 1-9). God was going to save me and then honor me (v. 21). If you are reading this, then that is proof that God has honored me.
David was no liar though he has played one on TV (v. 22c). He used stringed instruments to praise the Lord (v. 22a, c) as well as sang (v. 23). He witnessed to God all day long and reminded everyone how God had delivered him from his challengers (v. 24).
Are people antagonizing you because of your faith in Jesus? Let this psalm encourage you. He brought me back from the dead and he will help you, too.
Proverbs 12:5-7 Presage Kit
In Colossians we are commanded to keep our minds on the Lord (cf. Col. 3:1). In fact, we can’t make any progress in the Christian life without feeding our brains with Scripture (cf. Rom. 12:2). David says that believers have clean minds but bad people have dirty thoughts (v. 5). We should keep that in mind when we listen to music or watch TV that is created by non-Christians. We have to decide what is right for us to watch or listen to (cf. Rom. 14:23; Titus 1:15) but we must always evaluate what we are watching (cf. 2 Cor. 10:5). Those who create the entertainment we listen to or view all have their own worldview that often is not very Christian. I don’t think it means that we are legalistic or need to forego secular entertainment but we do need to think through what we are exposing ourselves to. If you think you are being corrupted by your entertainment, then it is not God’s will for you to watch to listen to it.
Some things are so bad that we can not escape the motives of those who produce it. There are those in the entertainment business who would love to ruin your faith and corrupt your mind (v. 6a). Good preaching, the reading of Scripture, and the mentoring of friends can help you avoid those things (v. 6b).
In the Millennium the wicked will be put in their place (v. 7a). Evil will be dealt with swiftly (cf. Rev. 19:15). The righteous who have trusted Christ will be secure in their own homes at that time (v. 7b). God presages some of that type of thing even today!